Applicant v State Secretary for Justice and Security (Staatssecretaris van Justitie en Veiligheid)
NL: The Council of State confirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic led to force majeure in asylum procedures and thus the time-limit for taking a decision was automatically suspended.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the State Secretary extended the period of six months to take a decision on an asylum application by six months for all asylum applications for which that period has not yet expired on 20 May 2020. The applicant appealed before the Court of the Hague against the lack of a decision on her application to grant her an asylum residence permit, arguing that the extension is not legal. On 14 September 2020, the court declared her appeal inadmissible and the applicant lodged a second appeal before the Council of State.
The Council of State rejected the appeal as unfounded. It held that the COVID-19 outbreak has made it temporarily impossible to take decisions on asylum applications. It was physically impossible to conduct interviews, which is essential in asylum procedures. Thus, this should count as a force majeure. Due to this force majeure situation, the time-limit for taking a decision is automatically suspended. This also applies when the case was already delayed and the IND would therefore have to pay penalties for not making a decision on time. This period started on 16 March 2020 and ended on 16 May 2020. In such a situation, the IND should inform the applicants as soon as possible, but even though it did not do so immediately, it does not mean that there was no case of force majeure.
Asylum Procedures/Special Procedures; COVID-19/Emergency measures; First Instance determination;
Raad Van State (Council of State Official Website)
Netherlands, Council of State [Afdeling Bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State], Applicant v State Secretary for Justice and Security (Staatssecretaris van Justitie en Veiligheid), 202005098/1/V1, ECLI:NL:RVS:2020:3020, 16 December 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EASO Case Law Database.